Portrait of a runner.
I always try to avoid running uphill whenever I can. In our old neighborhood in the ‘burbs I could run for miles in any direction and avoid every single hill if I wanted (not that there were that many hills since we were smack-dab in the middle of what used to be the wide open prairie). But I’m not so lucky living in the city because no matter which way I decide to run, it’s always uphill all the way home.
A couple of years ago I was out running and heading back towards home. As usual, I felt the familiar dread when I faced the long, steep hill back to the house. So I did what I always did – I took a deep breath, put my head down, and started the slow, deliberate ascent uphill. As I lumbered up the hill with my downtrodden head and collapsed shoulders, I muttered to myself, “You can do this. You can do this. Just a little further. You can do this.” And then I had a thought – what if I looked up? What if I opened my chest a little? Maybe I could get a little more air.
So that’s what I did. I held my head up, opened up my chest and shoulders, and breathed deeply. And to my astonishment I was able to run more freely. With my new posture I was able to take in more oxygen and move my arms more, which in turn helped to propel me up the hill. It took a little more energy in the beginning, but the payoff in the victorious feeling at the top of the hill was incredible. And that one simple discovery has changed the way I approach hills and running in general.
For the past few weeks, Tripp and I have been facing an uphill challenge of a different sort. Tripp had to shut down his business right before Christmas. Since then he has been looking for a job and as anyone who is unemployed will probably tell you, looking for a job is in many ways more challenging than working at an actual job. It’s often a long, hard uphill battle.
In the beginning, I approached this obstacle like I used to approach running uphill – determined, but with dread. I think it’s part of our human nature that when we are faced with challenges our first response is to hunker down or pull in tight. Circle the wagons so to speak. It’s a defense mechanism to protect our most vulnerable parts.
But then I was running one day, uphill all the way home of course, and it dawned on me that maybe I needed to adopt my attitude toward neighborhood hills and apply it to our circumstance hill. So that’s what I did. I held my head up and breathed deeply.
I am so happy to tell you that Tripp starts his new job on Monday.
I’m not going to tell you that a positive attitude makes hills any less steep or less challenging, but rather it’s a statement of faith that give us the power to make it up the hill and get back home.
So if you happen to be facing an uphill battle of your own, my advice would be to lift your head up, open your chest, and breathe deeply.
And run victoriously.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7